Dr Sean Fennessy

PhD University of KwaZulu-Natal (2001)
Senior scientist

Research Interests

  • Western Indian Ocean fishes and fisheries, particularly demersal fishes associated with crustacean trawl fisheries
  • Impacts of trawling
  • Connectivity with other countries in the region
  • Recruitment Serranidae Sciaenidae


  • Ecosystem functioning in the KZN Bight
  • The Suitcase Project - connectivity between Madagascar and South Africa
  • Prawn trawler bycatch assessment

Current students

  • Ecosystem functioning in the KZN Bight
  • The Suitcase Project - connectivity between Madagascar and South Africa
  • Prawn trawler bycatch assessment


  • Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature
  • South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
  • South African Department of Environmental Affairs
  • South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal

Recent publications

  • Robey, J., Fennessy, S.T., Everett, B.I., Santos, J. & Groeneveld, J.G. (in press). Distribution and biology of knife prawn Haliporoides triarthrus on deep-water trawl grounds off eastern South Africa. African Journal of Marine Science.
  • Groeneveld J.G., Everett, B.I., Fennessy, S.T., Kirkman, S., Santos, J. & Robertson, W.R. 2013. Spatial distribution patterns, abundance and population structure of deep-sea crab Chaceon macphersoni based on complementary analyses of trap and trawl data. Marine and Freshwater Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF12263.
  • Moloney, C.L., Fennessy, S.T., Gibbons, M.J., Roychoudhury, A., Shillington, F., Von Der Heuden B., Watermeyer, K. (in press). What is the evidence for offshore marine ecosystem change in South Africa? African Journal of Marine Science.
  • De Lecea, A.M., Fennessy, S.T. & Smit, A.J. 2013. Processes controlling the benthic food web of a mesotrophic bight (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) revealed by stable isotope analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 484: 97-114.
  • Ayers, M.J., Scharler, U.M., Fennessy, S.T. 2013. Modelling ecosystem effects of reduced prawn recruitment on the Thukela Bank trawling grounds, South Africa, following nursery loss. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 479: 143-161.
  • Solano-Fernandez, S., Attwood, C.G., Chalmers, R., Clark, B.M., Cowley, P.D., Fairweather, T., Fennessy, S.T., Gotz, A., Harrison, T.D., Kerwath S.E., Lamberth S.J., Mann, B.Q., Smale, M.J. & Swart L. 2012. Assessment of the effectiveness of South Africa’s marine protected areas at representing ichthyofaunal communities. Environmental Conservation 39 (3): 259–270.
  • Savody de Mitcheson, Y., Craig, M. T., Bertoncini, A. A., Carpenter, K. E., Cheung, W. W. L., Choat, J. H., Cornish, A. S., Fennessy, S. T., Ferreira, B. P., Heemstra, P. C., Liu, M., Myers, R. F., Pollard, D. A., Rhodes, K. L., Rocha, L. A., Russell, B. C., Samoilys, M. A. and Sanciangco, J. 2012. Fishing groupers towards extinction: a global assessment of threats and extinction risks in a billion dollar fishery. Fish and Fisheries. 14: 119–136.